New cable car opens in Courmayeur, Italy
After a 4 year build that cost €110 million, the SkyWay Monte Bianco cable car opened in Courmayeur this summer. From its base station in the resort, the new lift runs up to 3,462m, to Punta Helbronner on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, with a mid-station at 2,200m complete with restaurant and botanical gardens. The lift is open all year round for mountaineers, hikers, skiers and snowboarders – as well as those who simply want to have a drink at the top bar and enjoy epic views of Mont Blanc from the viewing platform. While there’s no on-piste skiing from the top, the new lift is an off-piste skier’s dream, giving access to the Toula Glacier, Marbrées, Pavillon Woods and the Vallée Blanche. Once on board, a simple mountain view isn’t all you can enjoy – cable car riders can enjoy weather reports, avalanche news, and ‘landscape cam’ – the view beneath the car, captured on camera – all shown on a big screen. Just in case you think you might still miss something, each car rotates 360 degrees while travelling, too.
US ‘mega resort’ is on its way
Earlier this year, work began on creating the largest ski resort the US has ever seen. Park City Mountain Resort and nearby Canyons were purchased for $182.5 million in 2014 by Vail Resorts, who then announced plans to link the two resorts with a new 8 person gondola. Described by the Park City Planning Commission as “one of the most ambitious and impactful capital plans in the history of the US ski industry”, work started as soon as the 2014/15 ski season drew to a close. The improvement project, which includes upgrades to the King Con and Motherlode Lifts at Park City, is costing $50 million, making it the largest ever single-season investment in a ski area. It will effectively create one huge 7,300 acre playground featuring over 300 trails, 38 lifts and seven terrain parks, as well as new slopeside properties and restaurants. “This plan for Park City and Canyons will completely transform the experience at both resorts and throughout this world-class community,” said Bill Rock, Park City’s Chief Operating Officer.
‘Alpine Legends’ lift pass launched in the Tarentaise, France
Les Trois Vallées, Paradiski and Espace Killy – three of the largest ski areas in France – have teamed up to offer a single ski pass. For skiers and snowboarders, this means access to a plethora of fantastic resorts including Val d’Isère, Meribel, Tignes, Les Arcs, Val Thorens and Courchevel, all under one 6 day pass. Costing approximately €340 (prices at the time of printing were unconfirmed), the Alpine Legends pass covers 391 lifts across five glaciers, giving skiers access to a whopping 1,300km of slopes – all for just a little more than the cost of a 6 day pass for just one of the three ski areas.
A joyous home run for Les Deux Alpes, France
Getting back to your chalet in Les Deux Alpes will be a whole new experience this winter, with the unveiling of a new blue run. Until now, the only pistes leading back to the resort were icy blacks and overcrowded greens. ‘Jandri 1’, the brand new blue, changes all that, running from the glacier at the top of the Les Deux Alpes ski area, right the way down to the bottom of the resort. It might sound like a relatively uncomplicated addition to make, but it is a huge project for the resort, with 550,000m³ of earth to shift and reshape, and 12,000 trees to replant – all carefully planned to comply with environmental policy – at a cost of €10 million. As of 5 December, novice skiers can breathe a sigh of relief at the prospect of a much more enjoyable journey home.